ECONOMIC ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) have suggested reciprocity to speed up negotiations on the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) deal, Trade Secretary and Asean Economic Ministers Meeting (AEM) Chair Ramon Lopez said on Monday.
“We are now suggesting reciprocity for Asean members who are not ready to give, for instance, the 90 percent of products for inclusion in liberalization, maybe a lower number. And because of that, the RCEP is not moving.
So, for the meantime, we will separate them and give them time to be ready,” Lopez said during the 18th RCEP Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) Meeting and Related Meetings.
Reciprocity is a mutual exchange of privileges; specifically a recognition by one of two countries or institutions of the validity of licenses or privileges granted by the other.
“RCEP should be able to demonstrate that we continue to underscore the developmental function of international trade that benefits ultimately the broader base of the economy,” Lopez added.
To keep the momentum going, the overall RCEP package should suit the developmental needs of the RCEP parties, he said.
“For the Philippines, RCEP should translate to more jobs and more business opportunities leading to higher incomes for many Filipinos,” Lopez added.
The bid to move RCEP forward requires political willingness, especially at the moment when return to economic protectionism is being considered in some parts of the world, the DTI chief said.